Cost and benefit estimates of partially-automated vehicle collision avoidance technologies
Many light-duty vehicle crashes occur due to human error and distracted driving. Partially-automated crash avoidance features offer the potential to reduce the frequency and severity of vehicle crashes that occur due to distracted driving and/or human error by assisting in maintaining control of the vehicle or issuing alerts if a potentially dangerous situation is detected. This paper evaluates the benefits and costs of fleet-wide deployment of blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning crash avoidance systems within the US light-duty vehicle fleet. The three crash avoidance technologies could collectively prevent or reduce the severity of as many as 1.3 million U.S. crashes a year including 133,000 injury crashes and 10,100 fatal crashes. For this paper we made two estimates of potential benefits in the United States: (1) the upper bound fleet-wide technology diffusion benefits by assuming all relevant crashes are avoided and (2) the lower bound fleet-wide benefits of the three technologies based on observed insurance data. The latter represents a lower bound as technology is improved over time and cost reduced with scale economies and technology improvement. All three technologies could collectively provide a lower bound annual benefit of about $18 billion if equipped on all light-duty vehicles. With 2015 pricing of safety options, the total annual costs to equip all light-duty vehicles with the three technologies would be about $13 billion, resulting in an annual net benefit of about $4 billion or a $20 per vehicle net benefit. By assuming all relevant crashes are avoided, the total upper bound annual net benefit from all three technologies combined is about $202 billion or an $861 per vehicle net benefit, at current technology costs. The technologies we are exploring in this paper represent an early form of vehicle automation and a positive net benefit suggests the fleet-wide adoption of these technologies would be beneficial from an economic and social perspective.